What LEARNING Means

We all know that we continue to learn through our lives. That we start learning the day we’re born and continue until Apple has no more devices to invent. So learning isn’t simply about the information that we gain from academic study. It isn’t simply about information at all.

Learning is what we need to do so we can live. Not just to make a living but so that we can do the essential things – move, interact, consume …. so that we can exist effectively and safely within a community of other people. So that we have a sense of who we are and what we want and need and how we might acquire those things.

It’s obvious that some of our most essential learning happens in our very early years. But some of the most important learning for the rest of our lives happens when we develop the understanding that our brains and bodies have evolved to acquire during our adolescence and young adulthood. In formal education – like a classroom. And everywhere else.

Engaging with others and taking on more independence as we physically develop is a pivotal stage of life. So what happens (or doesn’t happen) as we traverse that tightrope from child- to adulthood lays the foundation for the decades to come.

So if we don’t have the opportunities to observe others, test and develop our skills and comprehend the intricacies of autonomous living and functional relationships during that period, that means we don’t progress. We don’t become someone capable of living a productive and safe adult life. We might pass 16 years on the earth, … 17 and then 18 … but if we’ve been stuck somewhere away from classrooms and shopping centres and sporting activities and entertainment venues – different people and places and circumstances  …  then we might be stuck at the social, personal and cognitive development of a 14 year old. Or younger.

Many forces linked to experiencing severe mental health issues can drive a young person to isolate from the world. Despite trying all they can to be part of it. Fear, anxiety, trauma, confusion, hopelessness  … any or all of these things can lead a young person to cut themselves off. Confine themselves – sometimes to just a couple of rooms. For a very long time.

And so they miss out on the learning that happens with their peers, with their community and in environments created by education professionals.

So ONLY an education program that recognises this situation and creates experiences that acknowledge an individual’s level of development and specific needs can support young people who’ve experienced this social isolation to making gradual progress. 

It is not enough to recognise that a young person has missed out on the acquisition of specific areas of knowledge. Because their capacity to then acquire that if presented can never be assumed. A young person must be able to recognise and regulate their emotions, establish and build positive relationships and have the tools to make responsible decisions and handle challenging situations constructively. This is why the Australian curriculum to Year 10 is not just the Maths, Science, English … that are the focus of the senior secondary years. The General Capabilities dimension that includes Personal and Social Capability can be an area that teachers of young people with severe mental health issues may need to implement even when a student is at a senior secondary age.

Personal & Social Capability icon (Australian Curriculum)

Personal and social capability supports students in becoming creative and confident individuals who, as stated in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008), ‘have a sense of self-worth, self-awareness and personal identity that enables them to manage their emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing’, with a sense of hope and ‘optimism about their lives and the future’. On a social level, it helps students to ‘form and maintain healthy relationships’ and prepares them ‘for their potential life roles as family, community and workforce members’ (MCEETYA, p. 9).

Students with well-developed social and emotional skills find it easier to manage themselves, relate to others, develop resilience and a sense of self-worth, resolve conflict, engage in teamwork and feel positive about themselves and the world around them. The development of personal and social capability is a foundation for learning and for citizenship.

“The development of personal and social capability is a foundation for learning and for citizenship.”

It’s THAT important.

So
when we acknowledge that young people with severe and complex mental health issues can have missed out on the experiences that facilitate this development, we start to recognise the importance of education programs that see a student as an individual. Not an age. Not a category. Not a disability or a diagnosis. But a unique person with specific needs. AND POTENTIAL.

Good teachers will plan and adapt programs and experiences accordingly.

Great teachers will do that with respect and empathy.

Thank you to all the great teachers who have brought community to a world of isolation. And who have nurtured self-esteem and fostered hope for a brighter future.

Young people with severe and complex mental health issues DESERVE GREAT TEACHERS.

Nothing less.


To read our previous October posts focused on education, go to:

Education for Young People with Severe Mental Health Issues (5 Oct)

And the GOOD NEWS is … (9 Oct)

Not Patients But Students (15 Oct)

“Who We Are” and “What We Need” (22 Oct)

Two positions for mental health consumers/carers

Amidst our month long focus on EDUCATION for young people with severe mental health issues, opportunities continue for those with lived experience to have a voice where it matters.
Here are two – one with the Queensland Mental Health Commission and the other with the government’s Quality Assurance Committee:

 

Queensland Mental Health Commission – Steering Committee

Closing date: 5pm Thursday, 22 October 2020

Needs-analysis project – mental health non-government community services sector

The Commission is seeking to engage eight (8) people with lived experience of mental illness personally or as a carer to become members of the time-limited Steering Committee that will oversee and inform the needs-analysis project.

The Queensland Mental Health Commission (the Commission) is investing in a needs-analysis of the mental health non-government community services sector to gain a better understanding of the current environment, strengths, challenges, barriers and opportunities. The needs analysis will inform the development of a five-year strategy to enhance, develop and grow the sector.Further information can be found on the Commission’s website – https://www.qmhc.qld.gov.au/

How to apply: Please complete the consumer application form here and return to consumer@hcq.org.au by 5pm Thursday, 22 October 2020.


Queensland Health Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Quality Assurance Committee

(The QAC was established by the Queensland Health Director-General in September 2017. The Committee meets an identified need for quality assurance oversight and improvement of mental health alcohol and other drugs service delivery.)

Closing Date:Wednesday 21 October 2020.

The Queensland Health Quality Assurance Committee (QAC) for Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Services is recruiting up to two (2) representatives to fill available roles on the QAC membership. They are seeking expressions of interest from consumers and carers who have experience with Queensland Health mental health and/or alcohol and drug treatment services.

How to apply: Please complete the consumer application form here and return to consumer@hcq.org.au by Wednesday 21 October 2020.

 

Please share this post or the information wherever you’re able.

Thanks!

Wanted: Consumer Carer Senior Consultant for Jacaranda Place AETC

A key role is being advertised for the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre (AETC), Jacaranda Place, at Chermside.

The CONSUMER CARER SENIOR CONSULTANT will be vital in ensuring that young people and their carers and families continue to be able to play an active role in the way the centre  functions and evolves to best meet the needs of those accessing its services.

Some of the essential job details follow here but the full position description and application information can be found at https://smartjobs.qld.gov.au/jobs/QLD-H20CHQ337404

Position status Permanent
Position type Flexible part-time
Occupational group Administration
Classification AO5
Workplace Location Brisbane – North
Job ad reference QLD/H20CHQ337404
Closing date 02-Mar-2020
Salary Other $44.37 – $48.28 p.h.
Job duration
Contact person Emma Hart
Contact details 33109559
Access the National Relay Service

The Consumer Carer Senior Consultant will promote and give guidance to the development and ongoing management of consumer participation and provide ‘systems advocacy’ in relation to consumer, carer and family related issues by:

    • Ensuring consumer, carer and family perspectives are included in all aspects of mental health service planning, delivery and evaluation
    • Assisting staff of the Queensland Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre in its aim to provide a person and family-centred service.
    • Communicate the broad views of consumers, carers and families to mental health services and other relevant services.

Children’s Health Queensland HHS will be your employer should you be successful in being appointed to this role.

Apart from contributing to the development of this vital and growing Hospital and Health Service, they state that you will also benefit from a competitive remuneration package and a working environment which embraces professional development, builds capabilities and supports staff to maximise their health and wellbeing. Additional benefits include:

    • Up to 12.75% employer superannuation contribution
    • 17.5% annual leave loading
    • Salary packaging
    • Employee Assistance Program
    • Work/life balance, variety and flexibility

So, if you’re considering applying for this role, please go to https://smartjobs.qld.gov.au/jobs/QLD-H20CHQ337404
where you can access pdf versions of:

the AO5 Consumer Carer Senior Consultant Role Description
and
the Information Package for Applicants

Co-design of the facility was just the beginning. The model of care that is utilised to treat young people and support them and their families – and the delivery of the education program along with the many other components that the new Jacaranda Place has the potential to provide – must meet the needs of those it was built to support. Even as needs evolve and change and new challenges arise for the cohort.

This new centre cannot be all that it has the opportunity to be unless there is effective ongoing communication from those using the centre and from those for whom the centre would have served to make a difference had they had access to it. And a Senior Consultant whose focus is to facilitate that input, ensuring it reaches those who can enact changes and advancements, is a role on which ongoing collaboration hinges. This position is one that will genuinely rewarding as it is one that will truly make a difference.

So please share this widely to ensure that the best possible candidates apply.

$70 million in Queensland budget for Adolescent Mental Health

NEWS

The opening story on the 12 June bulletin on Queensland’s ABC television News was that the Palaszcsuk’s 13 June 2017 state budget – released this week – includes just under $70 million dollars to not only proceed with the establishment of the new extended treatment and rehabilitation facility at Chermside but to create four other complementary services aiming to support young people with mental illness in the community. (Online summary of ABC report here.)

Future plans include two new Step up Step Down facilities in south-east Queensland and two day programs to be based at Logan and the Gold Coast.

Justine Wilkinson, who lost her daughter Caitlin following the closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre, has welcomed the allocation of funding but acknowledges that there is still much to be done to provide young people and their families with the full range of support that will make a significant difference to lives that can be indescribably turbulent and challenging. Ms Wilkinson’s ongoing advocacy has meant that she – along with other consumers and carers with lived experience in this area – has played a significant role in the ongoing co-design of new services following the government’s commitment to act on all the recommendations from the BAC Commission of Inquiry.

The engagement of Health Consumers Queensland has ensured that consumer and carer representatives sit on all committees and working groups undertaking planning to fulfil the recommendations and that people throughout Queensland have had opportunities to provide meaningful input into future service provision. This commitment to co-design ensures that those with lived experience not only are heard but heeded and can actively help to shape future services – a collaboration that should lead to programs and support that genuinely meet the needs of those in the community that require them.

Health Minister Cameron Dick believes the funding package to be a landmark step for young people so the community affected by youth mental health issues can only hope that innovative approaches to planning and needed funding continue to be at the forefront of the minds of all those responsible for providing vital services at all levels and in all sectors.

(More comment on this announcement can be found at the Blog post: ‘A Budget Boost –its implications for the Future and the Past.)

Disciplinary Action for two public servants involved in Barrett Centre Closure

NEWS

Following the presentation of the report from the Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry, the Public Service Commission (as an independent central agency of government) was asked to consider whether the conduct of any of the referenced Queensland Government employees breached the Public Service Act 2008 and should then be the subject of a disciplinary process.

Today (8 September 2016), families of former Barrett Centre patients were notified that the Public Service Commission had recommended action against a small number of Queensland Government employees. As a result, Queensland Health has begun disciplinary proceedings Continue reading